Monday, August 2, 2010

Twin French Breads

For August, the Mellow Bakers are making two styles of French bread.  One starts with a poolish of flour and yeast and water, the other has salt added to the pre-ferment.

I thought I would make the French bread with poolish and the French bread with pate fermente at the same time.  It seemed, at the time, like a reasonable way to compare them.  But without thinking, I placed them both in similar bowls, right next to each other on the three season porch.

But the first thing that I forgot was to mark the pre-ferment.  Hey - I was busy. So, the next morning, when it was time for the bake, I simply tasted the two pre-ferments.  The simply poolish would not have any salt in it, and as I expected this was a good way to distinguish between the two bowls, which otherwise looked the same to my blood-shot eyes.

So then eventually I had to let them get a final proof in sets of three on my baguette pan.  It seemed like a good plan as well, you know, to get those little 'dots' on the bottom.  The problem was that I did not account for how much rise there would be, and the loaves bled into on another, all along the sides.  It reminded me of a very large focaccia with 'dots' on the bottom.  I obviously was not thinking.

When I groused about it, the Darling Bride simply said, " If they are rising that much, just do them over and only put two loaves in the three ridge pan.'  I hate it when she points out the obvious like that. 

Sort of. 

No, actually, I find it really endearing, but only when she is right. 

Of course, I can't let on.

But it meant that I would either be combining the 'extra' dough again, or doing something with the middle loaf.  I decided that since I was in such a mad rush to make so many loaves, I would do the final proof for the Pate fermente style on sheet pans with some corn meal, and without thinking (notice that recurring theme?) I combined the two supposedly different recipes.

I thought I could tell the difference, because that middle loaf that I had pulled off the baguette pan was divided into two shorter loaves.  It would now be noticeably shorter.

OK, so it was not that much shorter.  Before long I had both types combined, my weak little mind just could not keep it together.

It thought that since they were going to be going to Sister Demeter's house I would have a group of willing victims - er - I mean willing, experienced food critics to tell the difference between the two types.

Long story short, no one, including me, could tell the difference.

And it did not help that Demeter's Love Slave had made some garlic scape butter.  It was awesome, really made the bread wonderful.  We ate a lot of French bread, slathered with DLS's garlic butter, to accompany a fine meal of fresh veggies and chicken kabobs, which DLS had grilled to perfection.  Followed by fresh Door County cherry pie, lemon pie (there is one in the background) and even watermelon that Son of Demeter had provided.  We were all stuffed to the gills, and no one could tell one type of bread from another.

"Well, try them again." 

"No way - can't eat any more - too full."  


It was a typical meal at Demeter's house.  Even the dogs were full.

But I got the desired 'dots', by golly.

And I still have some neighbors to check with. as well.  I think that I gave them different kinds.  Hopefully. 

I will ask, and if anyone thinks that there was a difference, I will report back and make them again.

To the best of my beer palate ability, there was very little difference between the two types of French bread.

But then, all I can taste this Monday is garlic!

Whew.  What a great weekend.  Stay Mellow!


  1. Ha! Love this story! Totally sounds like something I would do (/have done). Let me know if you ever decide there's a difference...I'll probably only be able to make one of them this month! Either way, the loaves look great!

  2. Abby - you will not be disappointed either way. They are both good, and after polling the relatives and neighbors, no one could tell the difference.

    But, as I told Paul, I have a neighbor whose nephew is "up" from New Orleans, and they are in the backyard right now with a big old pot of stuff cooking. They are making making jambalaya, so I will be setting two more batches tonight for another, more deliberate test with all new victi- er, taste testers.